Most successful entrepreneurs have lofty end goals and they want to sprint over the goal line right now. This forward vision is essential, but success rarely comes in the form of a perfectly straight upward trajectory.
I use the analogy of physically jumping forward. If you stand where you are today and just try to jump forward, you may be able to move your body forward by a half a foot or so. But if you are trying to jump over a small waterway, you move backwards so that you can get a running start and leap forward a great distance.
You need to take the same approach in business.
When your objective seems so close, yet always out-of-reach, try to take a step back. Here are a few suggestions that can help you decide how many steps back you need to take to leap forward toward success.
Do a Partial Re-boot
Sometimes, your business may not be working because you have some of the wrong elements in place. It could be the wrong product or service mix for your customer base, it could be the wrong staff, or it could be the wrong processes and procedures. However, you can never fix what’s wrong if you keep doing what you are doing.
Consider shutting down your business for a week or two (or shortening your hours) to formulate a new strategy for your business. You may have to reduce your SKUs, reduce staff, shut some locations or even go smaller first in order to get to the next level. Doing what’s not working won’t allow you to grow, so allow yourself to get smaller to have the right foundation to get bigger.
Go Back to School
You may have worked in your field for 20 years, but how much do you really know about running a business? Maybe a lack of business knowledge is stifling your business growth. Or maybe you need to update your skills in particular areas to keep pace with the changes in technology and your industry.
Consider going back to your school days and take a few courses at your local community college. Or consider free training offered by various organizations, such as the Small Business Administration or your local Chamber of Commerce.
Going back to get business basics and new information can allow you to get past your current business roadblocks so that you can grow.
Do a Full Re-boot
Sometimes, business owners have to squarely face reality and shut the business down… for now. If you cannot see any path forward from where you are, maybe you need to consider starting fresh on a smaller scale. Or, it may be time to work for someone else for a while, so that you can learn from the best- and worst- practices of another business without having that financial risk.
When you’re ready to start your business again, you will have fresh knowledge and ideas that can help you move forward successfully.
When your best efforts don’t seem enough to move your business to your ultimate goals, you need to step back. That step may be small or it may be moving back a mile. If that sounds discouraging, Steve Jobs may have said it best: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”